Credit cards: A year in review, and what’s changed?

credit-card-year-review

In between investing in reusable masks and learning to ‘check in’, a lot went down in the credit card world last year. 

Aside from being asked to exclusively try to use plastic to limit the spread of Covid-19, credit card providers were also left with the task of managing redundant travel rewards programs and assisting financially vulnerable customers. 

To give you an official recap, we’ve broken some of the credit card news highlights over the last year.

What did credit card spending look like in the last 12 months?

The short answer, an absolute rollercoaster. 

First, credit card spending plateaued. In fact, a study conducted by data analytics and consumer intelligence company J.D. Power found that 42% of credit card customers decreased their usage last year. 

Mozo also found that 25% of Aussies received a ‘financial wakeup call’ during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and made the decision to get debt-free once and for all. 

However, as we headed into the festive season, spending picked up again before dropping in Jan and spiking again in Feb of 2021. We weren’t kidding when we said it was a rollercoaster.

Credit card rates, featured and fees: What changed?

It’s not often you see credit card providers slash purchase rates on products, but given the financial strain the pandemic placed on many Aussies, priorities changed. 

In April 2020, Mozo reported that five providers cut rates on their cards between 25 and 100 basis points. Other support measures that were introduced were deferring repayments, waiving late fees and interest or lowering the minimum repayment amount. 

Like we said, credit card rates rarely change, even with the numerous RBA rate cuts over the last eight years. That’s why we decided to do some digging on the matter. 

According to our number crunch, credit card providers have profited a whopping $6.4 billion by not passing on RBA rate cuts to customers. The one card issuer who did pass on the most recent cut was Auswide Bank, shaving 15 basis points off its Low Rate credit card.

What about rewards cards and bonus point deals?

With international travel a no-go zone until further notice, many Aussies began to see their rewards card in a different light. 

We found that 66% of Aussies say rewards cards aren’t worth the return anymore and that the value rewards credit cards had declined significantly. And they might not be wrong either, as the average rewards card’s net value has plummeted from $126 five years ago to a mere $34 in 2020. 

But that didn’t stop rewards card providers from dishing out a bundle of bonus point deals to entice new customers. There were also cashback deals from providers big and small, including Amex, NAB, Westpac and BankSA.

How about Buy Now Pay Later or interest-free options?

Over the last few years, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) companies have taken Aussies shoppers by storm, promising interest-free spending and flexible repayment options. To combat this, big banks CommBank and NAB threw down the gauntlet and launched their adaptation: an interest-free credit card. 

NAB made a move first, releasing its ‘Straight Up’ interest-free credit card in September 2020 and CommBank shortly followed by revealing its Neo interest-free credit card in December 2020. 

Both cards promise no late fees and interest-free spending, however, there is a monthly fee based on the customer’s credit limit. 

The result? It was a hit. 

CommBank figures from a month ago found that one-third of all credit card approvals in December was for the Neo interest-free credit card, with more than half of the card’s uptake coming from millennials alone. 

American Express also moved to keep up with BNPL companies with their version, ‘Plan It’. 

Like BNPL, Amex customers can now make purchases ($150 minimum spend) using their card at any American Express-accepting merchant and pay them off in interest-free instalments of either three, six, nine or twelve months. 

Phew, that was a lot! 

But just in case you’re still hungry for more, you can head on over to our credit card comparison tool to keep up with some of the latest credit card offers around.

Compare low rate credit cards - last updated 16 October 2021

Search promoted credit cards below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure
  • Apply By 31 Oct 2021
    Bendigo Bank Low Rate Credit Card

    0% p.a. on purchases for up to 12 months (Reverts to 11.99% p.a). Also 0% balance transfer for up to 12 months. Low annual fee of $45 and no fees for additional cardholders.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    0% p.a. for 12 months then 11.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 12 months and then 11.99% p.a. (2.00% balance transfer fee)
    $45
    Details
  • Bankwest Breeze Mastercard

    Enjoy 0% p.a on balance transfers for 15 months then 9.90% thereafter. No annual fee for the first year. Limited time only. Other fees, T&Cs apply. New Breeze Mastercard customers only.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    0% p.a. for 15 months then 9.90% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 15 months and then 9.90% p.a.
    $49 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Great Southern Bank Low Rate Credit Card

    0% balance transfer rate for 25 months and up to 55 interest free days. No annual fee for the first year and $49 after. Mozo Experts Choice Balance Transfer Platinum Credit Card Winner 2020^

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    11.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 25 months and then 21.74% p.a.
    $49 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • MoneyMe Freestyle Virtual Mastercard

    Use your virtual card instantly once approved (typically within 60 minutes). Features include Tap n Pay with up to 55 days interest-free, transfer money to any bank account and exclusive access to MoneyMe perks. $0 annual fee for lower limits. Must be employed with decent credit history.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    16.99% p.a.
    No current offer
    $209 $0 - $149 based on credit limit, $5/month for balances over $20.
    Details
  • NAB StraightUp Card

    Pay no interest and no late payment fees, just a $10 monthly fee for a $1,000 credit limit. Plus, if you don't make any purchases and have an outstanding balance of $0 during the whole statement period, the monthly fee will be reversed. Also pay no foreign currency fees when you shop online or overseas. Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Innovation Winner 2020^.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    0% p.a.
    No current offer
    $120 $10/month - waived if no spend & no balance owing
    Details
  • St.George No Annual Fee

    0% p.a. for 12 months on APR requested at card application. The special promotional purchase rate applies from card approval, after the promotional period, the rate will switch to the variable purchase rate. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    0% p.a. for 12 months then 20.74% p.a.
    2.99% p.a. for 15 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $0
    Details
  • NAB Low Rate Card

    0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 32 months, plus a low ongoing purchase rate after that means you can spend with confidence. There's also up to 55 interest free days on purchases to help you manage your budget better.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    12.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 32 months and then 21.74% p.a. (0% balance transfer fee)
    $59 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Hot Deal
    Westpac Low Rate - Cashback Offer

    Enjoy a super low rate of 13.74% with 55 days interest free plus $400 Cashback with $4k+ spend on eligible purchases within 4 months of card approval. No annual card fee for the first year, $59 thereafter. New Cards only. Offer ends November 30th 2021. T&C's and exclusions apply.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.74% p.a.
    No current offer
    $59 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • American Express Low Rate Credit Card

    Competitive low rate with $0 Annual Fee. Get $100 back when you apply online by 27 October 2021, are approved and spend $1,000 on your new Card by 31 December 2021. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only. Customers need an annual income of $50,000 or more.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    8.99% p.a.
    No current offer
    $0
    Details
  • Bankwest Zero Mastercard

    No annual fee and up to 55 days interest free on purchases. 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 26 months and then 14.99% p.a. thereafter (2% BT fee applies).

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    14.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 26 months and then 14.99% p.a. (2.00% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Details
  • Westpac Low Rate

    Enjoy a super low rate of 13.74% with 55 days interest free plus 0% balance transfer for up to 28 months at 1% BT fee. No annual card fee for the first year, $59 thereafter. New Cards only. Offer ends November 30th 2021. T&C's and exclusions apply.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 28 months and then 21.49% p.a. (1.00% balance transfer fee)
    $59 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 30 Nov 2021
    St.George Vertigo - Cashback Offer

    $300 cashback when you take out a new Vertigo Credit Card and spend $4k on eligible purchases within 120 days of the new card approval. No annual fee for the first year, $55 thereafter. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.99% p.a.
    2.99% p.a. for 15 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $55 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 30 Nov 2021
    Bank of Melbourne Vertigo

    0% p.a. for 30 months on balance transfers requested at card application. 0% balance transfer fee applies. Rate then switches to applicable variable cash advance rate. No annual fee for the first year, $55 thereafter. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 30 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $55 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 30 Nov 2021
    BankSA Vertigo - Cashback Offer

    $300 cashback when you take out a new Vertigo Credit Card and spend $4k on eligible purchases within 120 days of the new card approval. No annual fee for the first year, $55 thereafter. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.99% p.a.
    2.99% p.a. for 15 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $55 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 30 Nov 2021
    Bank of Melbourne Vertigo - Cashback Offer

    $300 cashback when you take out a new Vertigo Credit Card and spend $4k on eligible purchases within 120 days of the new card approval. No annual fee for the first year, $55 thereafter. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.99% p.a.
    2.99% p.a. for 15 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $55 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 30 Nov 2021
    St.George Vertigo

    0% p.a. for 30 months on balance transfers requested at card application. 0% balance transfer fee applies. Rate then switches to applicable variable cash advance rate. No annual fee for the first year, $55 thereafter. New cards only, Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply. Offer ends November 30th 2021.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    13.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 30 months and then 21.49% p.a.
    $55 $0 in the first year
    Details
  • Apply By 20 Oct 2021
    David Jones American Express Platinum Card

    Earn 70,000 Membership Reward Points or 35,000 Qantas Points when you apply online by 20 October 2021, are approved and spend $1,500 at locations excluding David Jones on your new Card within the first three months. Available to new David Jones American Express Platinum Card Members only.

    Purchase rate
    Balance transfer rate
    Annual fee
    0% p.a. for 6 months then 20.74% p.a.
    No current offer
    $295
    Details

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Awards

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